AVONDALE ESTATES, Ga. -- A float supporting President Trump created controversy during the 4th of July parade in Avondale Estates.
Michael Gargiulo said his group’s truck was hauling a “Friends of Santa Claus” display. The truck also had a “Trump Pence 2020” sign on the front.
Gargiulo said his group was on the receiving end of profanities and obscene gestures because of the sign. A video of the parade on YouTube posted by Rhonda Patterson shows a woman shaking her head as the float went by, but no other gestures. The video only shows part of the parade route, however.
The City of Avondale Estates posted the following statement on its website:
“For many years the City of Avondale Estates’ Fourth of July Parade has provided an opportunity for our community to celebrate our nation’s founding with a fun, family-oriented event. The City has been honored over the years to have local and state political leaders participate in the Parade, in a manner that is positive and respectful to everyone attending the Parade.
One of the great aspects of the Parade is the floats that neighbors create and decorate. Over the years, floats have respected the nature of the Parade by avoiding displaying divisive political messages. Unfortunately, the City is aware that not every participant in the 2019 Fourth of July Parade respected the traditional positive, non-divisive nature of the event.
Please know that any political campaign sign that you may have seen on a float in the Parade was not approved or endorsed by the City of Avondale Estates, City staff or any City elected official. Any political sign displayed at the Parade expressed a participant’s private opinion and did not speak for the City of Avondale Estates.
The City regrets that the divisive nature of a certain float that participated in the Parade had a negative impact on some community members’ enjoyment of the event. At future events, the City will ask all participants to celebrate in a manner that is positive and not divisive. However, the City believes firmly in the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment and will continue to respect this fundamental right.”
Gargiulo says he takes issue with the suggestion his group was doing something that was divisive.
“We were expressing ourselves in a respectable manner,” Gargiulo told 11Alive’s Hope Ford. “A graceful manner. In a manner, on the most patriotic day of the year, that was appropriate. Any other day of the year should be appropriate, but on this particular day, how can you say that deserves that type of reaction? Of all days, we should be mindful and respectful that even if they have a difference of opinion, maybe today they should think about a way to be mindful or graceful and respectful. For a lot of people, that wasn’t the case.”
Avondale Estates Mayor Jonathan Elmore told us they would have no further comment beyond the statement on their website.